If you are heading to New Zealand, be prepared to unlock your phones and other devices during security checks at the borders or be prepared to pay up to $3,200 in Fine.
This follows a Customs and Excise Act 2018, which came into effect this week. Customs officers can demand travelers to unlock their electronic devices at borders and anyone who refuses is subject to prosecution and fines up to 5,000 NZD, or about $3,000 USD.
To be clear: It won’t be necessary to unlock your device or hand over your passwords in order to enter the country. Customs agents won’t search everyone’s devices at the border. Instead, searches focus on travelers selected for additional searching, on suspicion of unlawful importing or exporting.
A device can only be confiscated if, after preliminary searching, border patrol officials have additional suspects. However, failure to provide a password for preliminary searching could be grounds for seizure and additional search.
The law applies to both New Zealanders and foreigners passing through the country’s borders.
New Zealand is the first country in the world to impose penalties for travelers that refuse to hand over their information.